Each year, the World Tea Expo features the newest and best in the ever evolving and colorful world of tea. This year’s expo was held at the Long Beach Convention Center. If you weren’t able to make it out to the expo this year, here’s a quick glimpse into some of the festivities!
The two main attractions at the conference are the educational sessions and the exhibitors. You can see from the set of classes listed above that the expo covers many different aspects of tea drinking, from manufacturing and sourcing to health effects, pairings, and recipes.
Here are a few of the new teas and tea related products that I discovered at the conference. Spicely Organic’s Sweet Tumeric Kick Tea Blend was a unique and unexpected find. This blend is thick, spicy, and sweet, and brews to the most brilliant shade of orange. It blends equally well with water as it does with milk. As it’s taste reminds me of the flavors you get in Indian cuisine, I think some fresh, chewy Naan Bread would go perfectly with this brew. If your are tired of Lipton tea bags, and are looking for a tea that’s caffeine-free and one-of-a-kind, this may be the tea you’ve been looking for!
As you can probably tell from my Easter and Christmas Stroopwafel posts, I’m quite the enthusiast when it comes to these classically thin caramel cookies. Rip van Wafels makes stroops in two different flavors, traditional caramel and a less common cocoa version. I like that their cookies are individually wrapped for portion control and for freshness. It’s also nice that the cookies are made from all natural ingredients.
Since I just came back from Hawaii a few weeks ago, I was super thrilled to come across Mama-Kii Brand Tea. Mamaki is a type of Hawaiian herbal tea that I had the pleasure of tasting for the very first time during my recent visit to the islands. In Hawaii, I tried some the tea in syrup form, over a tropical coconut panna cotta, but wasn’t able to find any to take home…not a problem anymore! Apparently, Native Hawaiians have drunk mamaki for generations, particularly for its calming effects.
I met Toffler Niemuth, the owner and creator of Belight Tea (the tea in the lower right corner in the picture above) while attending one of the educational sessions at the expo. Toffler’s unique Pu-Erh based blend is designed to support weight control and energy balance throughout the day–perfect for those days when you want to make your tea-time calorie free! Her blend won the Buyer’s Choice Award for Best Blended Tea, and also won 3rd place in the North American Tea Championship’s Blended Pu-Erh Category. It’s traditional to see Pu-Erh sold in bricks, but Toffler’s special blend is packed into easy-to-use tea bags.
Even if you’ve visited my blog just this once, with a few more clicks you’ll soon notice that I am obsessed with matcha (yay for Matcha Mondays!). Imagine my delight when I saw Ito-En’s new line matcha LOVE products that are already available in stores. Ito-En is usually known for their easy-to-drink, on-the-go bottled teas. I actually purchased these 2 cans of matcha above at Gelson’s in Orange County the day after the conference ended (no hand-outs for these at the expo). I found the taste of the matcha LOVE shot to be quite delicious, but wasn’t as impressed with the color of the tea. Nevertheless, since it’s generally drunk strait out of the can, matcha LOVE makes a great pick-me-up if you are out and about and need a convenient matcha fix.
Along with their canned matcha drinks, Ito-En has also introduced a few powdered matcha options this year, including classic, koicha (thick and strong), organic, and usucha (weak and thin) grades. These matcha powders are more for drinking than they are for eating or cooking with. I ‘m looking forward to buying a tin of the koicha to try the next time I spot some.
I featured Aiya’s Cooking Grade Matcha in my recipe for Matcha Chocolate Chips on this week’s Matcha Monday piece. Take it from a person who cooks with matcha on a daily basis…it’s great stuff! The cooking matcha is perfect for making ice cream, shakes, and other creamy treats like my Overnight Vanilla Matcha Oatmeal. I’m glad to have found a cooking matcha that isn’t only tasty and beautiful but also set at a decent price point.
I’ll leave you with a picture of the mistress of the Korean Tea Cermony, Yoon Hee Kim of Hancha Tea, a Certified Tea Master and Founding Director of the Korean Tea Culture Foundation, looking so artful and lovely in her Korean tea gown. Every year, the expo celebrates tea cultures from all around the world, which is what I love most about attending.
The World Tea Expo will be taking place in the Northeast US next year, so stay tuned! Rumor has it that the conference is now going to be held just once a year, instead of having separate West Coast and East Coast conferences. Converging West and East Coasts into one expo seems like a very good idea, as it will inevitably mean that there will be that many more unique teas to taste and discover. If you are an avid tea-lover, perhaps I’ll see you at the conference next year!